Phil Richards initially ran The Complete Works as a ‘Theatre in Education’ company and began staging educational plays, creative projects and workshops in mainstream schools in 1999.
It was evident from the outset that those young people who, for one reason or another, were disillusioned with education, still somehow remained inspired by the Performing Arts. During the first year of the company’s operation, Phil was asked if he could find a way to teach a particularly difficult-to-engage young person, who was refusing to go to school, to read. Drawing from skills acquired in Drama, Phil developed the creative methods of learning that motivated this young person to re-engage with education and subsequently gain entrance to college. This initial success led to many other young people being referred to work with the company in a similar way. Those who benefitted from being taught alongside others were grouped together and, as a consequence, the company became known as an ‘Alternative Provision.’
As the company evolved, we built a strong educational infrastructure and became registered as an exam centre, in order that students could sit GCSE examinations with us. Keen to have the quality of our work inspected by Ofsted, we applied to the Department for Education for Independent School Status, which was then awarded to us in 2013. Our experience of working with young people who have become disillusioned with mainstream schooling has taught us that re-engagement with education cannot simply be achieved by recreating the same model which has been rejected. Our approach to learning is to create a safe environment where young people feel supported, then nurture their creativity, and give them opportunities to increase their knowledge. This allows students to gain confidence and self-esteem and enables them to develop their skills of communication and their ability to work with others.
Our goal is to reach every young person who is referred to us. to this end, we work tirelessly to find the creative spark which will ignite their interest in learning and empower them to realise their full potential.
Each student is considered on an individual basis, and a tailor-made programme of education is designed to meet his or her specific needs. This may take the form of one-to-one tuition, group tuition, or a combination of both. The company’s objective has always been ‘to advance education, through creative means,’ and although the word ‘theatre’ no longer appears in the company name, creativity remains intrinsic to the work we undertake with all our students. Since the company’s incorporation, we have supported thousands of young people, both inside and outside the school setting, to re-engage with education and to learn creatively and achieve academically. In addition to the operation of our Independent School, the company continues to tour plays and delivers creative projects to other schools throughout London and the surrounding areas.